Thursday, August 27, 2015

To Do or Not to Do? Ten Tests

America's mores have changed rapidly, even in the church. My missionary grandma never wore slacks, never wore makeup, and never cut her hair. I too am a minister, and I do all three. Growing up in Alaska in the fifties and sixties, I would never think of wearing slacks to church. Now I do.

Activities I was taught were not appropriate for Christians and still tend to avoid (going to movies, dancing, drinking alcoholic beverages, listening to rock music, wearing revealing clothes, shopping on Sundays, to name a few) are now openly accepted and practiced.

As a minister, I am often asked whether a Christian is allowed to do this or that. I've noticed that these questions usually come when the person is contemplating doing something they think may be questionable but is not mentioned specifically in the Bible.

How can Christians set appropriate Biblical standards?

Galatians 5:13 says that Christians are called to live in freedom but also cautions us not to use that freedom to satisfy our sinful desires. Instead, we are challenged to serve one another in love.

In other words, true Christian freedom is not seeing how much we can get by with and still be a Christian. Instead, we need to ask how our actions will enable us and influence others to bring glory to God.

Here are ten tests I use to help me determine if an action or activity is right or wrong for me:

1. The Scriptural Test: Is it expressly forbidden in the Word of God? (Exodus 20:1-17). If so, I do not do it--ever!

2. The Personal Test: Will it make me a better or worse Christian? (Romans 14:22, 23; James 4:17).

3. The Practical Test: Will doing it bring desirable or undesirable results? (1 Corinthians 6:12).

4. The Social test: Will doing it influence others to be better or worse Christians? ( 1 Corinthians 8:9, 13; 10:32).

5. The Universal Test: What if everyone did it? (1 Corinthians 10:31).

6. The Stewardship Test: Will it cause a waste of the talents, abilities, and time God has invested in me? (Matthew 25:14-30).

7. The Missionary Test: Will doing it help or hinder the progress of the kingdom of God on earth? (Philippians 1:27).

8. The Character Test: Will doing it make me stronger or weaker morally? (Hebrews 12:1).

9. The Family Test: Will doing it bring credit or dishonor to my family or my church family? (Colossians 3:17).

10. The Publicity Test: Would I be willing for my friends to know about it? (1 Thessalonians 5:22).

I have made it my motto to live with eternity's values in view. So, my practice is that when I'm in doubt about the answer to any of these questions, I don't do it.

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